You are likely most familiar with the acronym LGBT- meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
As part of ‘Explained’ series, lets know who are “Transgender”:-
Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender. When we’re born, a doctor usually says that we’re male or female based on what our bodies look like.
But some people’s gender identity – their innate knowledge of who they are – is different from what was initially expected when they were born. Most of these people describe themselves as transgender.
A transgender woman lives as a woman today, but was thought to be male when she was born.
A transgender man lives as a man today, but was thought to be female when he was born.
Some transgender people identify as neither male nor female, or as a combination of male and female. There are a variety of terms that people who aren’t entirely male or entirely female use to describe their gender identity, like non-binary or genderqueer.
Everyone—transgender or not—has a gender identity. Most people never think about what their gender identity is because it matches their sex at birth.
Being transgender means different things to different people. Like a lot of other aspects of who people are, like race or religion, there’s no one way to be transgender, and no one way for transgender people to look or feel about themselves.
The best way to understand what being transgender is like is to talk with transgender people and listen to their stories.
People can realize that they’re transgender at any age. Some people can trace their awareness back to their earlier memories – they just knew. Others may need more time to realize that they are transgender.
Some people may spend years feeling like they don’t fit in without really understanding why, or may try to avoid thinking or talking about their gender out of fear, shame, or confusion.
Trying to repress or change one’s gender identity doesn’t work; in fact, it can be very painful and damaging to one’s emotional and mental health.
As transgender people become more visible in the media and in community life across the country, more transgender people are able to name and understand their own experiences and may feel safer and more comfortable sharing it with others.
For many transgender people, recognizing who they are and deciding to start gender transition can take a lot of reflection. Transgender people risk social stigma, discrimination, and harassment when they tell other people who they really are.
Parents, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighbors may be accepting—but they also might not be, and many transgender people fear that they will not be accepted by their loved ones and others in their life.
Despite those risks, being open about one’s gender identity, and living a life that feels truly authentic, can be a life-affirming and even life-saving decision.
It can be difficult for people who are not transgender to imagine what being transgender feels like. Imagine what it would be like if everyone told you that the gender that you’ve always known yourself to be was wrong.
What would you feel like if you woke up one day with a body that’s associated with a different gender?
What would you do if everyone else—your doctors, your friends, your family—believed you’re a man and expected you to act like a man when you’re actually a woman, or believed you’re a woman even though you’ve always known you’re a man?
People sometimes confuse being transgender and being intersex. Intersex people have reproductive anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female, which is often discovered at birth.
Being transgender, meanwhile, has to do with your internal knowledge of your gender identity. A transgender person is usually born with a body and genes that match a typical male or female, but they know their gender identity to be different.
How a person communicates their gender identity — through dress, behavior, voice or body characteristics — is their gender expression. A person’s gender expression may or may not line up with society’s expectations of masculinity or femininity.
The belief that someone’s gender identity can be changed through therapy runs counter to the overwhelming consensus in the medical community. Telling someone that a core part of who they are is wrong or delusional and forcing them to change it is dangerous, sometimes leading to lasting depression, substance abuse, self-hatred and even suicide.
Some people are able to change their identification documents, like their driver’s license or passport, to reflect their gender. And some people undergo hormone therapy or other medical procedures to change their physical characteristics and make their body better reflect the gender they know themselves to be.
Transitioning can help many transgender people lead healthy, fulfilling lives. No specific set of steps is necessary to “complete” a transition—it’s a matter of what is right for each person.
All transgender people are entitled to the same dignity and respect, regardless of which legal or medical steps they have taken.
For some transgender people, the difference between the gender they are thought to be at birth and the gender they know themselves to be can lead to serious emotional distress that affects their health and everyday lives if not addressed. Gender dysphoria is the medical diagnosis for someone who experiences this distress.
Not all transgender people have gender dysphoria. On its own, being transgender is not considered a medical condition.
Many transgender people do not experience serious anxiety or stress associated with the difference between their gender identity and their gender of birth, and so may not have gender dysphoria.
It’s important to remember that while being transgender is not in itself an illness, many transgender people need to deal with physical and mental health problems because of widespread discrimination and stigma. Many transgender people live in a society that tells them that their deeply held identity is wrong or deviant.
Some transgender people have lost their families, their jobs, their homes, and their support, and some experience harassment and even violence.
Transgender children may experience rejection or even emotional or physical abuse at home, at school, or in their communities. These kinds of experiences can be challenging for anyone, and for some people, it can lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health conditions.
But these conditions are not caused by having a transgender identity: they’re a result of the intolerance many transgender people have to deal with. Many transgender people – especially transgender people who are accepted and valued in their communities – are able to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
The transgender movement is part of a long tradition of social justice movements of people working together to claim their civil rights and better opportunities in this country. These challenges are connected.
Discrimination that transgender people of color face is compounded by racism, and lower-income transgender people face economic challenges and classism.
Transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else and be able to live, and be respected, according to their gender identity.
The best way to determine which term you should use to refer to someone is to ask them.
If you’re unsure, asking the person is always the best option.
The word someone uses to describe their gender can be a private and sensitive topic. Many people don’t share that information publicly or with strangers.
If you’re in a situation where asking isn’t possible or doesn’t feel appropriate, the next best option is to ask someone else — who ideally knows the person — if they know how the person in question likes to be referred to.
If you need to refer to someone but don’t know their gender or pronoun, it’s best to avoid gendered language and use the person’s name instead.
“Believe much more in love and heart. That’s much bigger [than] to see what you have in the middle of your legs.”